How Acceptable Do Older Adults Find the Concept of Being Physically Active? A Systematic Review and Meta-Synthesis

Laura Mcgowan, Angela Devereux-Fitzgerald, Rachael Powell, David French

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Abstract

Despite the significant health benefits of regular physical activity for older adults, only a minority achieve recommended levels. To develop effective interventions, the reasons for the low levels of physical activity in this population must be understood. The present review identifies and synthesises qualitative studies concerning the acceptability of physical activity to community dwelling older adults. A systematic search of four electronic databases identified 10 studies meeting inclusion criteria. These were appraised and findings
combined and compared using Thematic Synthesis. Older adults construed physical activity as a by-product of other activities, rather than as a purposeful activity within itself. This seemed to be linked to their self-perception as an ageing member of society, with physical activity considered irrelevant and competing roles and responsibilities, e.g. family, taking precedence. Additionally, older adults appeared to experience conflict between maintaining
their autonomy and accepting the physical and social vulnerabilities associated with ageing. As older adults do not see physical activity as purposeful within itself, interventions promoting moderate or vigorous physical activity are likely to have limited success. As even small increases in physical activity benefit older adults, future interventions may wish to target the reduction of sedentary behaviour in this population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Early online date16 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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